Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Draft versions of Political Party Law raise concerns

By Shih Hsiao-kuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Both a Cabinet version and a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) version of a draft Political Party Law (政黨法) delivered to the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee and the Judiciary, Organic Laws and Statutes Committee for assessment have raised concerns among the nation’s smaller parties.

Both versions stipulate that parties that have not held a congress in four years, have not complied with congressional deadlines set by the authorities, or have failed to nominate candidates for public office at county or city level or above, will be considered defunct. The KMT draft goes further by granting authorities the right to take disciplinary action by dissolving political parties.

Opponents claim the drafts contain possible violations of the Constitution and it has caused dissent from not only the pan-green camp, but also from pan-blue legislators who claim to have been unaware of its contents and say it is extremely inappropriate.

Many critics have lambasted the drafts for attempting to destroy smaller parties.

Jou Yi-cheng (周奕成), convener of the Third Society Party (第三社會黨), criticized the draft as unreasonable, saying that the public have the constitutional right to assemblage and no law that stipulates that parties must participate in elections at certain levels. He said parties could aim to serve the basic levels of society and only participate in township elections, and that it would be unreasonable to force these parties to disband.

While conceding that it would be reasonable to prevent parties that do not participate in elections from fund raising or enjoying tax benefits, Jou said that governing authorities do not and should not have the right to dissolve political parties.

Since parties can serve more functions than merely competing in elections and the four-year limit appears arbitrary, Jou said he felt that such legislation appeared to be aimed at forcing minor parties to disband.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator and member of the Internal Administration Committee, Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), argued that the current system for legislative elections is already disadvantageous to smaller parties and further restrictions were not required.

KMT Legislator and convener of the Judiciary Committee, Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進), agreed that electoral participation was only one way for parties to express their political ideologies and that the government should not force all parties to participate. He said that he had not been aware that his party had proposed the draft and had been ignorant of its content.

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